I believe in my dissident high school students. They gather on the handicapped entrance to our school’s auditorium. The place. They stand here before school and between classes. They lie down, sit, sleep, or watch a movie on someone’s laptop. It’s the Left Bank of our school. Those who find solace here often post memos to one another. Some are removed by the “Administration.” An ambiguous term “administration,” generally meant for one of the principals, but a name that covers all those who decide to censor them or repudiate their voices by removing their written thoughts. Today I strolled by looking for a kindred spirit to heighten my mood. It’s here with them that I engage in my honest thoughts about education and other subjects, about people and the overall state of the universe. Today there are no faces, just a lone copied H.P. Lovecraft spoof of a Family Circus cartoon called “The Nameless Dread” featuring a little boy running into the house from a Beckett-like landscape containing a singular, leafless tree set against a drab landscape. The boy, dressed in coat and mittens and winter cap is crying and screaming “I see it-coming here-hell-wind-titan blue-black wing-Yog Sothoth save me-the three-lobed burning eye …” and here is where the caption breaks off. I remove it, make a copy in the office and return it to the wall before anyone sees me. I write a response: “Posted by the hallway-leading-into-the auditorium group. They have positioned themselves here for years—the student activists, the readers, the questioners, the courteous rebels whom I believe in. We share a “Common Dread”: some call it depression, others call it being different, but naming a feeling of dread is impossible—it’s the primordial existential position the mind falls into on occasion—the Godot part of our brains.” An hour later Ike and Veronica want confirmation that I wrote the unsigned scribbled note. They appreciate the words, but point out that I misspelled courteous. “It’s c-o-u-r-t, says Ike. Court-like.” Exactlty. This is their court. This is where you can hear the voices of the courteous rebels if you listen.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.